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Tap Dancing AmericaA Cultural History$
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Constance Valis Hill

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390827.001.0001

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Black and Blue

Black and Blue


(p.245) 10 Black and Blue
Tap Dancing America

Constance Valis Hill

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a tap challenge between Gregory Hines and veteran hoofers Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy Slyde, Harold Nicholas, Arthur Duncan, and Sandman Sims in the 1989 film Tap. The movie culminated the decade in which tap dance came back with a rhythm-cutting vengeance—on Broadway, in the movies, on television, and on festival and concert stages. If tap had “died” in the 1950s and 1960s, then the sheer number of 1980s tap-dancing musicals, and musicals with tap-dancing stars, on and off Broadway, was staggering proof of tap’s resurrection. The 1980s saw the meteoric rise of Gregory Hines as rhythm tap’s most venerable star who would carry the tradition forward as an artist, producer, promoter, and ambassador of this American vernacular dance form. Newly emerging women in tap organized festivals, founded and directed companies, choreographed new tap works, codified techniques, and brought more women onto the concert stage.

Keywords:   tap challenge, rhythm tap, Broadway, Gregory Hines, women in tap, festivals

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